To say the word homecoming in my hometown of Orange, Texas, people would instantly imagine over-sized mums, football and high school royalty.
Now as an Army wife and military reporter, a homecoming is a totally different event altogether. The Army uses the term "redeployment," but I prefer homecoming, because that is exactly what is happening — soldiers are coming home.
I've easily attended more than 30 of these ceremonies in the past three years, and even though I can tell you exactly what will happen at each one, I can't help but get this tingly feeling of excitement as the soldiers enter. Then I inevitably find myself fighting off tears as I watch families reunite after months of separation. Every unit puts their own spin on the event, but it never fails — I always leave with a sense of joy.
Once again, homecoming "season" is upon us. Units seem to really be trying to get any soldiers that can get home for the holidays back to their loved ones. In the past six days, we've covered four totaling up to nearly 500 soldiers.
Even though my own soldier isn't on any of these flights, I'm not sad. Every time I see a parent, child or spouse wrap their arms around their soldier, tears streaming down everyone's face, I can't help but feel joy.
Rose L. Thayer is the military editor for the Killeen Daily Herald. She joined the paper in February 2011 as a health and military reporter. View her complete profile Here. You can contact Rose L. Thayer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.